It’s natural for guys to be the tough guy—to spar, compete, trash-talk, flex their muscles, yell, thump their chests. Get a few grown men together and they soon regress to grade-school boys—silly, crude, loud, and pranking one another. Analyze it all you want but it is what it is.
One characteristic obviously missing among those awesome qualities and behaviors is tenderness. We don’t naturally understand it. It confuses us. Guys spend their first couple of decades thinking that manly men are rough and tough.
Our ladies are wired differently. Their idea of a manly man is one who treats them tenderly. This is why so many husbands are so disoriented at first—or sadly, never get it.
When a guy gets married, he simply acts as he always has. To-the-point. Autocratic. Quick-tongued. Abrupt. Loud. Analytical. Objective. That may work great with the guys and the work place. It doesn’t fly at home with his wife.
But that doesn’t mean, guys, that we have to stop being ourselves. We just need to expand our relational skills—at least if you want to bring out the best in your wife and enjoy the best that marriage has to offer.
Unique Relationship, Unique Approach
Your relationship with your wife is totally unique. You have no other relationship like it and it requires different skills and attitudes. You can’t treat your wife like one of the guys, an employee, a coworker, or a client.
Do yourself a favor and just accept that right now. The relationship is different. The rules are different. You need to learn different skills and that’s okay. Because she’s worth it—and you’ll be a lot less frustrated as well!
I used to get so frustrated riding scooters with Gail. I looked forward to it but she didn’t drive like us guys do. Guys have this intuition when riding cycles together. I tried to educate Gail in these unwritten rules of the road but to no avail. I’d get frustrated. She’d feel corrected. What should have been a great time always ended badly. Not anymore. I ride differently now with Gail. It’s more important for me that she has fun and feels good about our times together. She’s worth it—and I love it.
A Quick-Start Guide To The Art Of Tenderness
If you’re struggling with the tenderness thing, here are a few pointers from experience. Brace yourself—it will probably sound similar to what your wife has been trying to explain to you.
- Choose your words and tone wisely. Basically, anything that sounds angry, demanding, judgmental, controlling has to go. It’s not just the words you use, but the way you say them. I tend to get loud when I’m feeling strongly about something yet it usually feels angry to Gail so I have to watch my volume. There is a learning curve involved here and no doubt you’ve spent some time there. Accelerate this learning process—for your own good—by asking for direction from your wife. When she bristles, ask for clarity. Don’t argue about it’s not what you meant, etc. Just listen and adapt. It makes you more of a man, not less.
Watch the non-verbal expressions. Sometimes our facial expressions and gestures say more than our words. Like getting louder, getting more animated can be misconstrued by our wives as negative and make them feel uncomfortable. Beware of facial expressions that convey disapproval, anger, or are belittling.
Work on the patience. As problem-solvers, us guys tend to want to address an issue as soon as possible. Beware. When your wife is upset about something, it probably won’t be a quick-fix in your timetable. It may not even be something she wants you to solve—which, I know, is totally mind-blowing. She may just need you to listen. So do it. Not begrudgingly, but tenderly and patiently because that’s what she needs. A real man gives of himself as his wife needs, not what he thinks is easiest or makes the most sense. Act rushed, bored, or disinterested and you’ll do so to your own hurt—and, most sadly, to hers.
Show her the affection she needs. Although it may not be natural, guys, you know what this looks like. A hug. Holding her hands while listening to her. An arm around her shoulders while sitting next to her. Carrying whatever for her. Getting what she needs when she’s cold. Treating her like a priceless treasure. You may look as awkward as the Hulk smelling a daisy or King Kong doting on the damsel, but you’ll win her heart.
Put succinctly, don’t overreact, raise your voice, be overly animated, rushed, demeaning, or brusque.
I know, guys, I’m setting you up here because our ladies will eat this post up. But it has to be done. I’m for you, your wife, and your marriage. And this is also a good exercise for me in my ongoing learning curve.
The point is that there is no other relationship even remotely similar to that of a husband and wife. She’s worth you playing by different rules. And when you give of yourself for her, she will respect and respond to you better than imagined.
…a man is really doing himself a favor and loving himself when he loves his wife!” – Ephesians 5:28 TLB
Question: What is one way you've been able to show your wife tenderness that's made a huge difference in your marriage? Share your answer in the comments below.